the grinch, christmas book presents, books, recommended reading, christmas gifting

Christmas book presents

1. For someone who needs a compelling read

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie: Clever Shamsie has taken the tragic story of Antigone by Sophocles and set it in modern Wembley and Islamic State-ravaged Raqqa. Politics, terrorism and jihad, along with a complex love twist, make this one of the year’s most powerful novels and a worthy contender for the Costa Novel Award.

2. For anyone feeling a bit bitter

The Standing Chandelier by Lionel Shriver: Can a man and a woman ever really be friends? Well, in Shriver’s pitiless tale, the couple in question are ex-lovers, now in their forties who play tennis together every week. When a new younger woman turns up, the tension on the tennis court ratchets up, as the two women prepare for battle.

3. For folks in need of a thrill

The Midnight Child by Lee Child: Another year, another Jack Reacher story. On his 22nd mission, the former military cop hero has to reach from Wisconsin to South Dakota to Wyoming in his quest to uncover an ingenious drugs scam, with many a violent episode along the way. There’s a reason why Child has sold over a hundred million books. Read this and find out.

4. For children everywhere: your friends’ children, your own children, your inner child…

The Book of Dust : La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman: It doesn’t matter whether or not you read Pullman’s original trilogy, His Dark Materials, because this sophisticated fairytale, the first of three, about the angst of adolescents being thrown into the adult world, is pure bliss, with fully-fleshed out characters and a powerful narrative. At 71, Pullman is still writing at the height of his powers.

5. For all the cow lovers in your life…

The Secret Life of Cows by Rosamund Young: Yes it might be niche but this bovine chronicle reprinted from 2003 by a sixty-something Cotswolds dairy farmer has turned out to be this year’s publishing sensation. Tending her herd of pedigree Ayrshires, Young learned early on that cows have feelings too, communicate with each other, have complex personalities and should be treated with compassion, all of which she has incorporated into her farming philosophy. Alan Bennett loves it.

6. For David Attenborough addicts…

Blue Planet II by James Honeyborne and Mark Brownlow: We all adored the leaping bottlenose dolphins, felt the pain of the bereaved mummy sperm whale, marvelled at the transgender Asian Sheepshead Wrasse and were utterly terrified of the bobbit. This is the book of the BBC series and it’s more than a worthy souvenir, with fabulous photographs and a riveting text by the film’s producers.

7. For liberal metrosexuals still confused about Brexit…

WTF by Robert Peston: The ITV News’s political editor has written a snappily-readable primer on why the country is in such a mess now and how we might get out of it. Peston’s the first to admit he didn’t see Brexit coming – but then nor did any of his friends, which in itself has been a massive wake-up call. Touchingly his arguent is bookended by two letters addressed to his deceased economist father.

8. For all the insomniacs in your life…

Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker: Until now the reasons for spending roughly a third of our lives in the land of nod have been little understood, but neuroscientist Walker shows us that sleep deficiency – that’s less than 8 hours a night – makes us sicker, fatter, unhappier and more likely to get Alzheimer’s, cancer and diabetes, among other things. Get with the programme, go back to sleep.

9. For foodies who’d rather go straight to pud…

Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh: If you’re already drooling at the seductively swirling meringue on the front cover of this book, wait till you get inside, to the recipes for Persian love cakes, chai brulee tarts, and pecan and Prosecco truffles, among others. By the man who began his professional life whisking egg whites and his Australian baker sidekick.

10. For Christmas nuts…

An Almost Perfect Christmas by Nina Stibbe: A beautifully packaged and nostalgia-tinged little volume that offers entertaining advice on how to survive the stresses and strains of the festive season, from how to throw a party and what not to give your nearest and dearest, to whether trifle should have a layer of jelly and how to achieve moist turkey lift-off.

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